Dan’s Foods floral department draws in customers with
high-quality products and attractive merchandising.
by Cynthia L. McGowan
Foods’ prototype store in Salt Lake City, Utah, is incorporating
the latest trends in store merchandising as part of a company
remodeling project. And floral, which is prominently positioned
at the front of the store, is an important part of the store’s
The six-store Dan’s Foods is one of the four banners owned by
Associated Retail Stores (ARS), which is a subsidiary of
Associated Food Stores, Inc. (AFS), a cooperatively owned
wholesale distributor based in Salt Lake City that serves 580
independently owned stores. The prototype Dan’s Foods is dubbed
the “Phoenix Project,” and new designs were tried out at the
store to determine what would work best at the other 22
The result is a store that is inviting and shopper-friendly. The
colors chosen for the store, which is in the Mill Creek
neighborhood in east Salt Lake City, are in nature hues of
greens and maroons. Colorful tile on the floor complements the
The produce department has an abundant selection colorfully
displayed on attractive wooden merchandisers. A large mural of
an orchard graces an entire wall of the department.
A deli, “Ruby’s Delicatessen and Catering” offers hot meal
solutions and has a dining area. The “Upper Crust” bakery offers
fresh-baked goods, and the meat department has in-store butchers
and fresh seafood.
The store’s signage is informative and appealing. Lifestyle
signage shows photos of people enjoying food. Aisle signage in
colors of black, white and red proclaims “For Your Family ...
Only the Best,” a theme that is carried throughout the store.
The signage style also is incorporated on shelf markers
indicating product selections.
floral at the front
The signage carries over to the floral department, where large
letters proclaim “Floral” in friendly script overhead. The
department, which measures 15 feet by 30 feet, is along the
front wall of the store at customers’ right as they walk in and
directly in front of the checkout stands.
The department grabs shoppers attention with well-merchandised,
colorful products. Fixtures brim with blooming and green plants,
bouquets and giftware. A cooler carries arrangements and flowers
by the stem. Balloons throughout the department add more
interest and movement. They’re also found at all the checkout
stands to catch impulse sales.
The floral department is full service, offering custom designs,
delivery within a 10-mile range, FTD flowers-by-wire service and
event services, including weddings. Floral Manager Janet Boren
reports that the floral department contributes 1 percent to 1.5
percent to total store sales.
Ms. Boren makes all the arrangements sold in the store. “That’s
the most fun part of this job,” she says. She makes arrangements
for customers while they shop, or they can call ahead to order.
She also keeps an abundant supply of arrangements in the floral
department’s cooler at all times. Designs left in the cooler
after she leaves for the evening often will be sold out by
morning, she reports.
Prices for arrangements average from $9.99 to $39.99, with
$19.99 the most popular. One of her best-sellers is a vase
design of five Gerbera daisies, New York Asters and ‘Misty Blue’
Limonium for $19.99. She includes a $3 to $5 labor charge when
Stores have the option of ordering products through AFS, with
its huge buying power, or they can buy directly from growers and
wholesalers. Annette Egan, AFS floral buyer and merchandiser,
sends booking sheets to all the ARS floral managers and takes
orders weekly. “They can buy anywhere they want,” Ms. Egan says.
“Even though we own them, we allow them to keep their own
identity and do what they do best.”
Most stores, including the Mill Creek location, do a
combination, ordering from both Ms. Egan and other suppliers.
Items that Ms. Boren orders from local wholesalers include
products for Dan’s Foods’ popular flowers-by-the stem program.
Cut flowers are Ms. Boren’s top seller, and she moves an average
of 350 stems a week through the program. Her cooler has a
multitude of specialty flowers by the stem, including Irises at
$1.69 each, sunflowers for $1.50, hybrid tea roses for $1.99,
‘Stargazer’ lilies for $3.79 and Gerberas for $1.69, as well as
various foliages and accent flowers.
Customers love the program, Ms. Boren relates. They like to pick
out their own flowers for their bouquets, and “we’ll wrap them
and put a bow on them,” she says.
Bouquets also are popular. They are sold in racks at the
entrance to the department, in the cooler and at the checkout
stands. Prices range from $4.99 to $19.99, and Ms. Boren says
she sells about 100 a week, with the $4.99 bouquet offering the
Three large merchandisers hold Ms. Boren’s plant selection.
During a recent visit by Super Floral Retailing, the plants were
healthy, fresh and lush, with no brown or yellow leaves in
sight. “We’re fortunate to have several local vendors we can
order from, and they deliver the next day,” Ms. Boren says.
“It’s a little bit fresher that way.”
Ms. Boren says she sells an average of 75 to 100 blooming plants
and 50 green plants a week. Recent hot sellers were 4-inch green
plants at two for $3. “I just got them in,” she says, “and
they’re selling right out.”
Other plants in her department include rosemary at three for
$10, 6-inch mums and Cyclamens for $8.99 each, ivy at $7.99 and
upgraded plant baskets for $34.99, which Ms. Boren says sell
well for funerals. Signage is large, abundant and tells
customers what they are saving. An example: “Priced Right; 6-in.
ivy; $7.99; regular price $9.99; you save $2.00.”
product selection and service have inspired a loyal following
among customers. “We see a lot of them every week,” Ms. Boren
says. “We have a lot of widows who promised their husbands that
they will come and buy a rose or a carnation every week, and
The store is located in an established neighborhood of Salt Lake
City, and customers include both elderly clientele who have
lived in the area for years and young families who buy products
to decorate their homes.
drawing in customers
To keep her customers’ attention, Ms. Boren constantly changes
the look of the department. “I love to make new things and
decorate,” she says.
Ms. Egan, who offers all the AFS stores promotional themes,
lauds Ms. Boren’s merchandising skills. “I give ideas,” she
says, “but most of hers are all her own, and she does a really
During Super Floral Retailing’s visit, the department had the
look of a garden on a spring day. A silk-flower-covered arbor
was the focal point. Inside the arbor, Ms. Boren placed a bench
occupied by a garden gnome and green plants. An old-fashioned
street lamp added to the ambience. The dÈcor combined with the
fresh, colorful plants and flowers for an inviting look.
Ms. Boren gets to expand into the foyer of the store during
major floral promotions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day,
which are her biggest-selling holidays. For Valentine’s Day this
year, she made a lovers’ lane that started in the foyer and went
into the store.
Customers loved the lovers’ lane, Ms. Boren reports. “They were
so flabbergasted to see it all decorated and were really sad
when it had to come down,” she says.
She puts up her holiday promotions about two weeks before the
event, which gets customers thinking ahead about the holiday.
“It really boosts the sales to do it two weeks in advance,” she
Also helping the floral program is the corporate support that
Dan’s Foods and the other AFS stores receive. Floral always has
space in the weekly newspaper ad, with both a bouquet and a
potted plant featured. Ms. Egan determines the ad items.
The ads, as well as all signage in the floral departments, are
created by the corporate advertising department. “We have a
really excellent advertising department,” Ms. Egan says. “I
couldn’t say enough good about them.”
She sends out monthly newsletters and weekly bulletins informing
floral managers of upcoming events, product pushes and
promotions. In addition, she conducts a monthly “sounding
board,” which is a conference call with invited floral managers
who give and get feedback and discuss successes and challenges.
“I rotate people in so that everyone gets a chance,” Ms. Egan
AFS has twice-yearly meetings where floral managers can meet
with vendors and see new products. Ms. Egan conducts floral
training sessions at those meetings.
That training is important to the success of the floral program
because most of the ARS floral managers had little floral
background before joining their departments, Ms. Egan says. Most
started in other store departments and moved to floral when
there was an opening.
Ms. Boren had some experience, but her route to the floral
department was similar. She has been with Dan’s Foods for five
years, starting as a scanner, then moving to a supervisor
position before going to floral three years ago. She learned her
design skills through on-the-job training.
Now she’s a one-woman floral department most of the time, except
during holidays when she has part-time help. She staffs the
department from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The store is open from 6 a.m.
to 1 a.m., and employees from the nearby customer-service
department are cross-trained to help shoppers with floral
purchases during floral’s off-hours.
During her shift, Ms. Boren’s skills at multitasking come into
play. She designs arrangements, orders products, processes
flowers (which come to the store drypacked) helps customers,
merchandises her department and sometimes even makes deliveries.
Says Ms. Boren, “It keeps me hopping!”
You may reach Cynthia L. McGowan
email@example.com or by phone at (800)
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